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Comfortably Numb

July 17, 2019

Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?... I hear you’re feeling down... Can you show me where it hurts?... I have become comfortably numb. – Pink Floyd

I frequently hear this music in my head when speaking with colleagues. Many are tired of rolling the healthcare reform boulder uphill. They have great ideas or have run great pilot projects that are not picked up by the system at large. They see valuable healthcare dollars spent on processes that may be inefficient or unnecessarily expensive. It feels like their voice isn’t being heard, and you can honestly only speak up and be turned away so many times before you stop trying. Many have become “comfortably numb.”

I feel that there is a great deal of promise in Doctors of BC’s current programs. Divisions of Family Practice and Medical Staff Associations have brought physicians together to openly identify the gaps in care we experience, and to work with public and private partners to address these gaps. The system is becoming more sustainable as a direct result of this work; however, there is still a long path ahead of us. 

Comfortably%20NumbThe evidence is everywhere we look. Patients are more complex and have greater medical needs – or just greater needs based on a variety of social or socioeconomic factors. As the main entry or touch point in the healthcare system, family physicians feel this first. I sit in meetings where I scan the room and honestly wonder if the people across the table can “hear me” – really hear me – as I relate the frontline issues. At times I want to quote Pink Floyd and ask them to just nod if they are in there. I know they are present and that they are listening, but I often wonder if we are saying the same thing, just from different perspectives. 

Change is coming. Change has to come. The current state of affairs is expensive, cumbersome, and has trouble meeting the needs of patients and physicians. How do we prepare for that future? Who defines that future? How do we change the direction of the behemoth of the healthcare system to make it flexible? I believe that by coming together, openly discussing our current situation, and envisioning our collective future, physicians can and will lead this transformation in a way that preserves and respects our work and provides the most optimal patient care. 

I am ready to meet with you – I want to meet with you. “Can you show me where it hurts” so we can work together to “ease your pain.” I am no longer “comfortably numb” and am ready to prepare for the future. Join me, won’t you?

- Dr Kathleen Ross


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